When you are waiting for your latest batch of homebrew to carbonate, it can feel like you are waiting for ages – which you sort of are.
However, by force carbonating your keg, you can skip to the good bit where you are happily drinking your homebrew and reveling in the deliciousness.
It is not very difficult to get started with force carbonation if you know what you are doing and what you will need which is why you should keep reading this article.
Force Carbonation – What Is It?
Instead of giving the residual yeast additional carbohydrates to naturally produce CO2 in the bottle, a gas cylinder can be used to directly add CO2 into the beer.
This is known as force carbonation or “force-carbing”, because it is a speedier procedure with less opportunity for error than bottle carbonation.
Here is what you will need to start your force carbonation journey:
- Gas cylinder full of CO2
- Gas regulator
- Keg post liquid and gas line fittings
- Unpressurized keg full of homebrew
The biggest difference between the two ways of force carbonating a keg is how long it will take for it to carbonate.
It is likely that you’re using a conventional Cornelius homebrewing-type keg with gas posts and ball lock-style liquid, so we will use this as an example for both methods.
When it comes to kegging their own beer, this is by far the most frequent and recommended serving container for homebrewers.
Preparing For Force Carbonation
To begin, connect a ball lock conversion kit to your current kegerator lines.
This is a simple method that helps to connect the gas and liquid lines to the existing lines on your kegerator without losing the ability to connect to normal ball-bearing style kegs.
After you’ve fitted the conversion kit, you’ll need to connect the gas line to the keg.
A Cornelius keg has two posts, one for pressurizing and one for dispensing. The liquid post is connected to a dip tube that extends all the way to the keg’s bottom.
As gas enters the keg from the top, it helps create pressure within the keg, allowing liquid to flow from the bottom of the dip tube to the top via the liquid line.
When carbonating, you want to do the reverse and feed CO2 gas directly down the dip tube, allowing it to rise up through the beer.
This increases the surface area between the CO2 bubbles and the beer, making the carbonation process more effective.
To begin preparing the keg, disconnect the gas socket from the gas line and set it away in a secure location.
After that, disconnect the black liquid socket from the liquid line and connect it to the gas line.
The sockets are only intended to be attached to their respective posts, allowing you to direct gas through the liquid post.
After that, carefully turn the gas cylinder to 5 psi and keep an eye out for any leaks in the line, around the keg lid, or at the liquid post. The next step in this method is what sets it apart a bit.
The Two Different Ways To Force Carbonate A Keg
In the first method, you will use less carbonate and CO2 pressure and carbonate for a longer time.
It’s important to make sure that the gas line doesn’t have any leaks. To do this, use the pressure release valve on the keg to let a little gas out of the keg for a few seconds.
As well as hearing the gas coming out of the keg, you should also be able to hear bubbles.
Adjust the regulator to increase the pressure to 20 PSI once you have made sure that the whole system is working. The keg should be left to carbonate for seven to 10 days, and then you should check the level of CO2.
Keep in mind that you need to switch and reconnect the liquid and gas sockets before you start testing. You also need to decrease the gas supply pressure before you start.
The other way to force-carb is the same, but it will carbonate faster. However, it’s important to point out that it takes more work.
When you start, connect the gas supply to the keg in the same way as the first method. As soon as you connect everything, turn the gas supply to 30 PSI.
It’s time to shake the keg a bit to get the beer inside to move around. You should hear bubbling right away inside the keg.
As the keg moves, more CO2 and beer come into contact with each other, which helps the CO2 get into the beer faster.
You should keep shaking the keg for about 20-30 minutes, then let it CO2 for about two or three days. Then check the level of carbonation.
Important Things To Remember
Do not just lower the temperature of your beer to make it carbonate faster.
You should not do this just to make it faster. You should keep it at a temperature that is right for the type of beer. You can then adjust the level of carbonation accordingly.
Temperature is very important when you force carbonate something.
This means that the colder your homebrew is, the more quickly CO2 will dissolve into it, and the less gas you’ll need to get the right amount of carbonation for your beer.
At the very least, you should try to carbonate your beer at the same temperature you’ll be drinking it.
Also, many homebrewers make the mistake of starting the carbonation process right away when they move their homebrew from the fermenter to the keg.
This can make the homebrew taste bad. This is usually done by lowering the temperature of the beer and adding CO2.
This makes it easier to carbonate the beer. Because diacetyl, which is a natural by-product of the fermentation process, doesn’t have enough time or the right temperature to re-absorb into the yeast, it can’t do its job.
The presence of diacetyl in your beer will be much more noticeable if you don’t let your beer rest for two days at room temperature after the final gravity has been reached.
This will make the buttery, popcorn-like flavors in your beer much more noticeable in your beer.
The CO2 regulator will be at high pressure if you turn it on. This could cause CO2 to leak out because of the high pressures.
In order to see any leaks, turn your regulator up to 30 or 40 psi and see if there are any.
Spray some soapy water or sanitizer on any parts that could leak: the keg lid, the pressure relief valve, the pressure-fitted tube connections, the quick disconnects, and so on.
There is a leak if you see foam or bubbles coming out of your pipes. Make sure to get rid of your gas and fix your leaky part as needed.
A good thing about brewing, though, is that you have to wait for things to work out. It can be hard to wait for your beer to finish from the time you make it to when it’s done fermenting.
At least when it comes to packaging, we have a great way to get you drinking your beer faster: force carbonation.
As you can see from this guide on how to force carbonate beer, you don’t need any more or more expensive tools than you already have.
It’s as simple as connecting the gas tank to your keg. You might shake it a little, and keep tasting until you get the level of carbonation you want.